Our Jacky turned seven years old this week.
Fall 2010. The morning after losing the second front tooth.
Boy, have I learned a lot about you this year, Jack. One thing I’ve learned is that, after a full year of first grade behind you—and after a painfully shy babyhood—you are really good in social situations. You excel at making friends. You are friendly, accommodating, polite, and thoughtful. At the family birthday party, you blew out your candles and said your wish out loud. You said, “I wish that my entire family stays healthy.” I saw a few family members’ jaws drop. But not mine. Because at your best, you are selfless.
You’re also a charmer. How do I know this? Because of the stack of love letters you received from—ahem—several girls this past year at school. You’ve told me about the ones you like, and the ones you love. But don’t you worry. I’ll keep your secrets about who is who so you can play the field as long as you need to.
There are also some things that haven’t changed.
You are still… not wearing clothes much. Snow, rain, sunshine—it’s always the same. You enter the house, throw pants, shirt, and shoes in a pile on your bed, and hang out in your undies. I’m still under the impression that you will outgrow this little quirk of yours. I was under that same impression last year. Guess I’ll check back next year.
The paragraph above should explain several upcoming photos.
You are still… creating.
You are still… loving dress up.
You were very proud of this warrior mask. So innocent. You even taped it to your face! I didn’t have the heart to tell you what it reminded me of. I didn’t want to spoil your fun or choke your creativity. The politics of it are for another time.
Modeling a scuba-diving balloon creation given to you by our neighbor.
(More of Marc’s amazing balloon stuff here.)
(which leads to)
You are still… acting.
Whether you’re portraying a robotic dinosaur:
It’s always entertaining. Bravo.
(Just in case anyone wonders, that’s magic marker on Jack’s chest. It's an Ironman thing.)
You are still… not swimming.
You are still… reading! More than 100 books during the school year. Lots of summer reading too. I’m so very proud that you enjoy it. Chalking that up to me and your dad, reading aloud, reading aloud, and then reading aloud some more. Backs patted.
You are still… loving your brother.
* * * * *
I remember when you were a baby, Jacky. That painfully shy babyhood. You were so, so very shy. You held on to me so tightly when we were meeting someone new. So tightly. I didn't want to force you. So I just squeezed back. I wondered if you would ever gather up the courage to let go.
These days, you’ll still hold my hand. But if there’s someone new to meet, you let go. You let go of my hand to meet them. And that makes me happy.
I’m starting to realize it's me that needs to gather up the courage to let go.
I promise I’ll work on loosening my grip a bit. If you’ll promise to, if only once in awhile, hold my hand tight. Like now. Hold my hand, bean, and I’ll hold on to yours. Let’s walk together.
Awhile back, a friend of mine wrote down her email address for me on this funny little monkey sticky note.
After seeing the note on the kitchen table, Jack called for paper,
crayons, and scissors. I obliged.
He created his own funny little monkey.
And then began creating an entire jungle.
He drew lions and tigers and bears. (I know. Oh my.)
And elephants and dolphins and bats.
And giraffes and red-faced blue-horned flower-toed, um, creatures.
And ... um. Okay. I don't know what this is.
But, you know. WOW. Instantly, simply inspired. From a funny little monkey sticky note.
The lesson; there's something to inspire you. Right now. Right in front of your face. Right now. Look around.
I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years now. I kinda know the ropes. But raising a vegetarian? I'm only five years in. Essentially a newbie. Which makes Jack a newbie too.
Case in point. Kindergarten. I wasn't aware of this, but the day after Halloween, kindergarteners begin a month's worth of celebrating what, for many, has become the focal point of Thanksgiving. TURKEYS. The kindergarteners get into the spirit of Thanksgiving by crafting scores of the birds. Cut-and-color turkeys. Cotton-ball turkeys. Paper-plate turkeys. Coffee-filter turkeys. Handprint turkeys. Turkeys embellished with waddles, wings, and feathers that feature all types of mixed media. Some really fantastic turkeys have come home in Jack's backpack. Surprisingly artistic, given the subject.
What also came home in Jack's backpack was a note to parents, letting them know that kindergarteners would be treated to a Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch. With kindergarten lasting only 1/2 day here, it was a very special treat indeed--Jack had never eaten school lunch before! After receiving the note, Jack and I talked in the car about the upcoming Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch:
Me: "So, a Thanksgiving lunch sounds really fun! You get to eat at school like the big kids who stay at school all day."
Jack: "So, will they make me eat turkey at the lunch?"
"No, baby, they won't make you eat anything. You get to pick and choose what you want on your plate. If you don't want something, you just tell the lunch ladies and they'll skip it."
"Okay. But mom, what does turkey look like?"
Hmm. I was stunned into a short silence. Certainly the turkeys served on Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day were not going to look like the turkeys Jack had been crafting all month long. Jack has seen a real turkey here, but that turkey was alive and running around. What to do?
Ah, yes. I knew the subscription I bought from my niece for a school fundraiser last year would come in handy some day. It's Better Homes and Gardens to the rescue!
Me: "I have a magazine at home that's all about Thanksgiving dinner. I bet they'll have a picture of turkey in it somewhere. I'll show it to you when we get home. Then you'll know exactly what it will look like at school lunch."
We arrive home. I get out the magazine. I find a full-page color photo and point out to Jack what turkey looks like.
Jack: "Can I tear out this page and put it in my backpack? On the day we have the Thanksgiving school lunch. Just so I remember what it looks like."
Me: Sure, honey, we can do that."
Here is a photo of the photo, all ready for Jack's backpack on
Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day.
Jack enjoyed his Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch on Thursday. He ate mashed potatoes, peas, bread, and a pumpkin goody. Did he need to use the photo after all? Nope. He told his kind teacher that he was a vegetarian, and she helped him along.
I'm so glad she did. Because, after taking a closer look at the photo above, I noticed the caption on the page:
"Loin of Pork."
Geez. I really have been a vegetarian for a long time.
Whatever you choose to grace your table with on Thursday, here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Since this fiasco occurred in our home, Jack has matured. We recently started allowing him to use grown-up scissors for certain cutting tasks. But then, one day, I carelessly left them out in plain view. Jack quickly reverted back to his three-year-old ways.
In totally unrelated news, our little family has been talking about recycling a lot lately. To cut costs. To cut the environment some slack. To cut into our creativity and let it the heck out. Lotta cutting around here.
Me: "Geez, Jack. You've had that costume for so long, you've loved it so much. Now it's ruined. We might as well throw it in the garbage."
"Yeah, we might as well throw it away. You can't even find the legholes or armholes to put your legs and arms in anymore. It's just full of holes!"
"No, mom, no. Please don't, please don't throw it away."
"Well, what are you going to do with it?"
"Um, I dunno. But please don't throw it away."
[Jack pauses to make sure he's covered his bases. Then he remembers one more base.]
"And please don't recycle it. NO recycling."
Funny to hear and see how five-year olds take new information and apply it to their daily lives.